Relationship Violence Red Flags
Security expert Gavin de Becker elaborates on four signs that are often missed. Still, he says these are not the only signs a relationship may become violent. For a full assessment, please take Gavin's MOSAIC test.
Many consider pushing or hitting a major clue that your partner is capable of violence—but Gavin says it's more than that. "It is the end of the mystery. Being hit is conclusive. It's over. The assessment is done," he says. "Being hit doesn't work in relationships, and it usually doesn't get better."
Symbolic violence is the destruction of objects to intimidate the other person. " The destruction of tearing up wedding pictures. You come home and the wedding gown is torn up," he says. "[If someone throws] a television out a window, the message is, 'I can throw you out the window.'"
If you think you could be in a dangerous relationship, look back at when the other person began discussing marriage, moving in together and having children. "When the pace is accelerated like that in the beginning, that is itself a control strategy," he says. "And women feel uncomfortable and they'll tell you: 'Yeah, I felt it was a little bit fast, but what could I do? He loved me so much.'"
If he won't take no for an answer, it's not because he's smitten. "Anybody who doesn't hear the word no is trying to control you," Gavin says. "Persistence does not mean you are special. Persistence means he is troubled."
Gavin says the word "no" is different for men and women. "When a man says no, it is the end of a discussion. When a woman says no, it is the beginning of a negotiation," he says. "A woman who buckles there ... is likely to buckle again and again and again. And he learns when you say no you don't mean no."
Gavin says some women misinterpret persistence as flattery. "What do most women do with persistence is they say: 'Well, he calls me so often. He writes to me so often. He's always talking about me. He's always getting me gifts,'" he says. "Gifts like a car that he owns, he controls—he's got the navigation system on. Gifts like a phone [so] that he can tell where you are, that he can always reach you."
What to do if you need to leave
If these red flags describe your relationship, it's time to leave—now. "The biggest message that I can share is you cannot do it entirely alone," Gavin says. "And the good news is you don't have to."
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit TheHotline.org today.
Gavin's advice on how to safely leave a violent situation with children
Gavin says many women are reluctant to seek help at their local battered women's shelters, but he says it's the safest place for a woman and her family. "If you're in a situation where you believe violence is going to continue, a battered women's shelter is the best help you can get," he says. "They know about the escape plan. They know what to do with the kids. They know what to do with the pets. They know what to do with the bank account."
Still not sure? Take Gavin's assessment to see if you could be in a life-threatening relationship
A mother's fight for life